Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Martha Diaz >

Martha Diaz, Founder, Hip Hop Association

What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
To be an entrepreneur you must be able to sell a product or service for a profitable return. The product or service doesn’t necessary need to be socially responsible or good for the people. I consider myself a social entrepreneur, someone who sells products and services to solve a problem that affects society.

What did inspire you to start your business?
As a filmmaker and educator, I was frustrated by the lack of opportunities, resources, and platforms available to those who wish to use Hip-Hop culture as a tool to communicate, and empower the community. Instead of getting mad, I created my own platform, resources, and opportunities. I began with an idea of Hip-Hop film festival and then created a Hip-Hop education summit, until it became a full-fledged organization.

How did you finance it?
I used social capital; I started by organizing my community and gathered people who were feeling the same way. I also used my own funds to support my vision.

Being Hispanic…Does it have any influence on your business?
Hispanics have certainly been influential in my business; Hip-Hop culture was started in the Bronx by African American, Caribbean, and Hispanic youths. Being Hispanic has allowed me to go beyond the US and reach Hip-Hop members from Latin American, and Spanish speakers in Europe, Canada, and Australia.

In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
I never let adversity stop me from getting the work done. I usually choose to scale down or find alternative solutions.

What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Our biggest challenge is acquiring monetary funds. We always have to tap into our social capital whenever we can’t raise funds. Another big challenge is getting the publicity for the work that we do; the celebrities are always outshining us.

If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
I would have started our distribution initiative sooner because of its earned income potential.

What was your childhood ambition?
I have always wanted to solve the world problems and help those who have been marginalized and disenfranchised. I especially wanted to care for the youth and sick people because they are so vulnerable. I remember wanting to cure cancer because my grandmother died of cancer at a young age.

Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire
Florence Nightingale – Despite the disapproval of her mother, Nightingale, an affluent upper class woman chose to become a nurse in 1845. Amongst her many accomplishments, this statistician cared for the poor and was a pioneer in the medical and education fields.
Mohammad Yunus - Bangladeshi banker, economist and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Yunus, is the founder of the Grameen Bank. As a professor of economics, he developed the concept of microcredit that provides loans to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans.
Paulina Maestre – Paulina was my grandmother, who worked at a telecommunications company as an operator, assisted the Governor’s office, and ran a bed and breakfast out of her home to raise 12 children in Valledupar, Colombia.

For business meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
Any of these will do, as long as: You are able to make it on time, don’t overeat or get drunk.

What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
I have sacrificed my two children to give to many. If it wasn’t for my mother helping me to care for my daughters, I would not be able to do as much as I do. I have also sacrificed my own personal time, funds, and friends in order to keep the business going.

What is your favorite quote?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead

Is it difficult to be unconventional?
Absolutely difficult, especially when people can’t envision the change or break old habits.

Biggest mistake made?
My biggest mistake is that I didn’t begin sooner.

Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
I consider myself an innovator because I have helped set a new standard and way of participating within Hip-Hop culture that transcends Hip-Hop. I am also the first woman to receive the Kool Herc Award. The highest recognition in Hip-Hop culture given by the Father of Hip-Hop.

About the Company
Formed in 2002, the Hip-Hop Association [H2A] is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community building organization. Now in its 7th year, the H2A is the recipient of the Union Square Arts Award and it’s considered one of the leading international Hip-Hop institutions. The mission of the H2A is to facilitate social justice, education and media reform, cross-cultural understanding, economic sustainability, and civic engagement, while preserving Hip-Hop culture for scholarship and future generations. The H2A empowers the community through programming, youth and leadership development, human rights advocacy, educational resources, and distribution mechanisms.

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